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Blog Feature

By: Kevin Asp on August 11th, 2015

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Legislative Issues Every Sleep Technologist Should Know About

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What are some of the legislative issues every sleep technologist should know about?

A significant benefit of becoming a member of The American Association of Sleep Technologists is that you can be easily informed of the latest federal and state governmental issues that affect sleep technologists across the nation. 

The AAST is the leading advocate and the united voice for the sleep technologist profession. The AAST actively monitors and evaluates the effect government action at the state and federal level.

AAST resources include the state directory that lists licensure legislation for each state and provides a link to official state sleep societies. Another resource for legislative information is the BRPT (Board of Registered Polysomnographic Technologists) website, which also provides detailed information on every state's licensure requirements.

Keeping up with legislative issues can be challenging, and it's easy to miss political issues that can profoundly affect our profession. That's why we put together a list of legislative issues that every sleep technologist should be aware of.

The AAST is the leading advocate and the united voice for the sleep technologist profession. Some AAST resources you may have already heard about include the state directory of sleep societies nationwide and the legislative issues presentation that's available on the website.

But keeping up with legislative issues can be challenging, and it's easy for a lot of us to fall back on being in-the-know on political issues that can affect our profession. That's why we put together a list of legislative issues every sleep technologist should know about.

The AAST's role in supporting sleep technologists:

Before we discuss some of the key legislative issues that every sleep technologist should care about, we want to remind members and non-members alike what the AAST offers members in terms of political advocacy and support.

  • The AAST provides standards and direction at the natioanl level that serve to develop and preserve the profession.
  • The AAST also serves as a conduit between sleep technologists and the environment in which sleep technology exists.
  • The AAST responds to inquiries about the profession from members, legislators, policymakers and other stakeholders.
  • The AAST analyzes legislative/regulatory issues that could influence the scope of pratice for sleep technologists (as we are doing now)!

These are some of the core issues that you should be aware of:

1. Do your state laws regulate the practice of sleep technology?

Basically, licensing laws pertaining to sleep technologists fall into five categories:

  • Licensure – Your state may require a licensure for you to work as a sleep technologist.
  • Exemption – Your state Respiratory Care Act may have exemption language that allows a sleep technologist to work within their scope of practice while under the direction of a licensed physician.
  • Respiratory Care Acts that Define Sleep Technology – Some state Respiratory Care Acts specifically define the education and training requirements a sleep technologist must complete to work as a sleep technologist.
  • Not addressed – Your state may not address the profession of sleep technology at all in their Respiratory Care Practice Act.
  • And finally some states do not address sleep technology or respiratory care at all in their state laws!

2. Know what your state licensure laws require!

  • An increasing number of states have added licensure requirements for sleep technologists in the past few years.
  • Know your scope of practice!  Most state legislation incorporates the elements of the sleep technologist scope of practice into the legislation.
  • Raise awareness in your state!  Due to a lack of awareness, some sleep technologists in states with newly enacted licensing legislation have continued to work without obtaining a license!  This creates many problems down the line for "unlicensed" technologists.
  • This is why it is crucial for every sleep technologist to understand what his or her state licensure laws require. 

3. Be aware of the resources that the AAST has available.

If your state does not currently license sleep technologists the AAST can assist you with:

  • Draft legislation for state sleep societies seeking licensing in their state
  • Draft testimony for sleep technologists campaigning for licensure legislation
  • Draft letters to legislators
  • Assistance to your state society with your legislative issue

We offer State Sleep Society support:

  • Assistance with developing an official state sleep society if your state does not currently have one
  • State sleep societies can apply to the AAST for matching fund assistance for state legislative and regulatory activities

4. Know your local coverage determination (LCD) requirements for performing sleep studies. 

Medicare regulates who can perform sleep studies, even in states that do not require licensure!  Be aware of what is required in your area! 

  • An LCD is a policy developed by a Medicare Administrative Contractor (MAC) carrier, fiscal intermediary or DME MAC to administer benefits for Medicare recipients.  An LCD specifies policy for a certain geographic region.

Every sleep technologist should know how to look up the current LCDs for their region!

Finding your LCD is rather simple:

1. Go to the centers for Medicare and Medicaid services website and visit the local coverage determinations by state index

2. Select the state you'd like to know more about 

3. Check off the active LCDs box and download - you're good to go!

5. Learn more about the Seniors Sleep Campaign! 

In 2014, Rep. Michael C. Burgess, MD, R–Texas and Rep. Bobby L. Rush, D-Ill., introduced a sleep apnea screening bill in the U.S. House of Representatives. The legislation, which was initiated through the AASM Seniors Sleep Campaign, would add screening for obstructive sleep apnea to the initial preventive physical examination covered under the Medicare program. 

The bill proposes that a clinically validated screening questionnaire be used during the introductory “Welcome to Medicare” preventive visit to identify new Medicare beneficiaries who have a high risk for obstructive sleep apnea. The bill would apply to initial preventive physical examinations for new Medicare enrollees.

Sleep technologists can join the Seniors Sleep Campaign to assist in the effort to pass a federal bill that will decrease the number of seniors who have obstructive sleep apnea and remain untreated.  Click here to download a PDF that provides more information from a technologist viewpoint on the importance of this bill.

Contact your Congressional representatives to discuss the importance of sleep health and request their support for the Seniors Sleep bill. If you're interested in signing the Seniors Sleep Pledge click here.

6. Learn more about the National Healthy Sleep Awareness project! 

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The National Healthy Sleep Awareness Project was established by a cooperative agreement between the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the American Academy of Sleep Medicine to promote improved sleep health in the U.S.

The AAST participates in and supports this project, which focuses on healthy sleep. Campaigns include public health initiatives to combat drowsy driving, increase awareness of and treatment for obstructive sleep apnea, and improving sleep to promote health, and wellbeing, and quality of life.

Sleep technologists can help improve public health and safety by promoting healthy sleep and screening for sleep disorders. Click here for healthy sleep awareness resources for health care professionals, including access to several interesting articles.

Sleep technologists – what can the AAST do to assist you with your legislative questions or issues?